BY ROGER SABOTA
Special to the Star Journal
Stop! Sit back and think about the varied weather we have had. The fall came very slowly this past year. Many area hunters were questioning whether the deer would go into the activities of the rut. Of course, that is a foolish thought. For many years we thought the deer went into the rut when the weather turned cold. Several area wildlife biologists have told me that the rut is based on decreasing daylight in the fall rather than the decreasing of the temperature.
This past fall the weather turned cold and windy the day prior to the gun-deer season. Then all of a sudden we had high, cold winds during the entire deer season. Many local anglers couldn’t wait for ice to form that was thick enough for them to venture out on. As late as several weeks ago we heard a report that a pick-up had partially gone through the ice on Pelican Lake. Then all at once we received a beautiful layer of snow. It was fun walking in 17 inches of snow when suddenly a grouse would jump out of the snow where it had hidden to stay warm.
This is the time of the year when there are sport shows on all sides of us. Sport shows have become the best avenue to find out what is new in fishing equipment – specifically musky fishing.
An example of a bait that just came out about a year ago is the three-bladed bucktail. I have tried it fully expecting it to reel with a lot of resistance. To my surprise there was less resistance than the “Cow Girl” bait provided.
The Sport show season began early in January with the Chicago Musky Expo. The next scheduled show is the Musky Expo in Milwaukee at the Washington County Fair Park Feb. 10-12. The Wausau show will be held in the Central Wisconsin Convention and Expo Center in Rothschild from Mar. 6-8. Following closely will be the Minnesota Musky Expo in St. Paul, Minn., Mar. 10-12.
Anyone interested can find information about any of the Musky Shows by entering the name of the show on the internet.
In regard to fishing, since this is supposed to be the ice fishing season some caution should be practiced by those thinking about venturing out on the ice. With the slush and puddles on the ice conditions could be dangerous.
The ice fishermen I have talked with have not reported very good success. I personally have stayed off the ice since the beginning of January. My favorite type of fishing is still fishing with our grandchildren whether it is ice fishing or open water fishing. Unfortunately, as the grandchildren get older their time to visit is more limited because of other commitments such as sports and jobs. That’s what happens. We’ve been fortunate to have had many opportunities to enjoy their company.
It will be interesting to follow the results of bipartisan legislation that has been introduced in the House and Senate that would return authority to the states for determining the protected status of the gray wolf. Rep. Sean Duffy and Sen. Ron Johnson, along with others have introduced bipartisan legislation that would delist the gray wolf in Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota and Wyoming.
According to the DNR the wolf population in Wisconsin in 1980 was 25; 34 in 1990; 248 in 2000 and 704 in 2010.
In 2012 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service delisted the wolf. Wisconsin had hunting and trapping seasons for three years, resulting in 117 wolves killed in 2012; 257 in 2013 and 154 in 2014.
DNR statistics showed that in the winter of 2015-16 Wisconsin had 866 to 897 wolves in 222 packs. According to Paul Smith, writing in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “When a wolf hunt is allowed in Wisconsin the question then will be: What should be the target wolf population? How many wolf permits should be issued?”
Longtime Northwoods outdoor enthusiast Roger Sabota writes a bi-monthly column for the Star Journal.